Prolific armed robbers jailed

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A team of prolific armed robbers have today, Monday 28 February been sentenced to 45 years imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court. Jacob Bernard, 29 of London,SW2; Francis Banya, 19 of London, SW9; Earljay Walters, 19 of London, SW4; Michael Lindo, 30 of no fixed address and a 17-year-old (who was 15 years old at the time of the offence) committed forty offences during a eight week crime spree.

In the latter part of 2009 the gang engaged in a string of violent armed robberies across South London. Initially targeting off licences and bookmakers, the gang’s offending diversified into attacks on public houses and restaurants culminating in ‘old fashion’ style bank robberies.

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During the attacks the gang used masks or balaclavas to disguise their appearance, brandished a handgun and threatened to kill staff if their demands for money were not met. To further intimidate their victims the gun would be racked or used to strike staff, with several people hospitalised in the attacks.

On 6 November 2009 Lindo, Banya and Walters robbed The Falcon public house, SW4, storming the pub as it closed and holding a gun to the head of a member of staff. They violently assaulted another member of staff when they couldn’t gain access to the safe, before fleeing with stolen mobile phones and bottles of wine. During a robbery at The Queens Arms public house, SW8 on 22 November 2009, Banya and Walters held a female member of staff at gunpoint. They assaulted her and stole a large amount of cash before escaping in a stolen car.

The offending escalated and on 4 December 2009 the gang committed an armed robbery at Barclays Bank, SE19. During the offence a customer was held at gunpoint and threats were made to kill her unless bank employees emptied the tills. The gang escaped with a large quantity of cash.

Following a pro-active operation by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Flying Squad at Barnes four defendants were arrested on 17 December 2009 immediately after committing an armed robbery at the NatWest Bank on Balham High Road, SW12. Bernard, Banya, Lindo and Winters had entered the premises shortly before closing time wearing balaclavas and masks and brandishing an imitation firearm.

Winters took up position by the door of the bank acting as look-out whilst Bernard took a female customer hostage, pressed a gun to her head and threatened to kill her if their demands were not met. They stole a large quantity of cash before fleeing to two waiting getaway vehicles where they were arrested by Flying Squad officers.

During a six week period leading up to 17 December 2009 the gang were responsible for forty armed robberies across South London. They pleaded guilty to a number of these offences at subsequent court hearings.

Banya was sentenced to 10 years for 16 robberies and possession of a firearm.

Walters was sentenced to 12 years for 14 robberies and possession of a firearm.

Bernard was sentenced to 14 years for 11 robberies and possession of a firearm.

Lindo pleaded guilty to 2 robbery offences and possession of a firearm and has today been sentenced to nine year’s imprisonment.

The 17-year-old boy was sentenced to a youth rehabilitation order for one robbery and possession of an imitation firearm at Natwest Bank, SW12.

Detective Chief Inspector Pam Mace from the Flying Squad at Barnes said: “These defendants were extremely violent young men who used firearms to enforce their demands and intimidate people who were just doing their jobs or going about their daily life. This series of violent robberies must have been terrifying for all the victims. This was an outstanding investigation which has resulted in a ruthless team of robbers being removed from the streets of South London.”

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